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Food & Health

February 6, 2014

Panel OKs ban on remote abortion pill distribution

DES MOINES — A legislative panel approved a measure Wednesday that would ban the remote distribution of abortion pills, a proposal the bill’s sponsor said is intended to delay the procedure and give women more time to change their minds.

The subcommittee voted two-to-one to prohibit the use of webcams or teleconferencing as a means of dispensing abortion-inducing drugs to patients in remote locations. The two Republicans voted in favor and the one Democrat was opposed. The bill now moves to the House Human Resources Committee.

The bill would require that women seeking an abortion be in the presence of a physician when receiving the pills. It also outlines disciplinary procedures to be taken should a physician violate the terms of the bill, which can include the revocation of a doctor’s license.

Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley said if women don’t have immediate access to an abortion-inducing drug, he hopes more might consider carrying a pregnancy to term.

“If that mother is now unable to go and get a webcam abortion, maybe it’ll give her a little bit more time to think about it,” Windschitl said. “That would be my hope.”

Windschitl is opposed to abortion rights, but he said it’s not his intention to limit health care access.

“There’s no way that you can fully legislate away abortion, and I fully respect that. It’s about changing hearts and minds.”

Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschall, D-Ames, opposed the bill, saying it would create a challenge for rural Iowans with limited access to physicians.

“This does put women who don’t have access to in-person medical care at risk for a more invasive procedure at a later term,” she said.

Erin Davison-Rippey, a Planned Parenthood of the Heartland lobbyist, said the bill severely restricts a woman’s access to the drug, and surgical abortions would likely increase as a result.

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